BristolCon

#squaresbygeeksAfter so many years of trading, being free to roam at BristolCon was a very odd feeling indeed. It was slightly nebulous, somehow, almost as if I’d missed something or there was something I should have been doing… for the first couple of hours, sitting chatting and drinking tea, I kept fidgeting, as if there was something I’d forgotten.

But no! After a while (and a very fine sarnie at the St. Mary Redcliffe just up the road), it finally dawned on me that I didn’t actually have to do anything, and if I wanted to sit on my arse, play with Lego and admire Emma’s sewing and crocheting skills (and all those lovely NERF guns, Ben!) then that was – actually – all fine.

Jen's DragonBut there was a reading (from the screen of my mobile phone as my iPad, dutifully lugged with me all the way from The Smoke, decided it wasn’t having any of it, thank you), a group signing (and actual people bringing actual books to be signed – even ones with my name on them), a book launch, (well done Jo on the almighty sales of Spark and Carousel), and the attending of the panels and the readings (including a very funny conjured-on-the-spot short story from Jasper Fforde featuring a wall of death and a pet lion in a sidecar, all good and blackly-oily fun).

Jasper FfordeAnd the best thing about not being nailed by my knees as usual? Proper time to catch up with people I don’t see nearly enough of, particularly old Vike buddy Ken, who’s now featured in Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion. And yes, I did buy a copy and he did sign it for me!

Well done to all involved for a fantastic event – a real family atmosphere and all very welcoming and laid-back. And, next stop FantasyCon, another event where I shall be a free and unbound creature, roaming widely and signing books and stickering unsuspecting passers-by!

Who knows, I could get used to this…

 

 

 

BristolCon

No Tables! Well, fuck me ragged, it’s a miracle – I will be at a Con, and without those firmly hammered-in nails that attach me to the FP table.

Yes, I will be at BristolCon on Saturday 26th, and will be giving a quick’n’dirty (no, not one of those) reading from Ecko Endgame in the Summit Suite at 13:50 – which will leave plenty of time for all you lovely people to get to Jo Hall’s Spark and Carousel book launch at 14:00.

No idea how it will feel being at an event without my table to hide behind – kind of feels like being bereft of both armour and safe retreat – but this is BristolCon, after all, so it’s all good.

Plus, Des will be there flying the FP flag, so I guess I’m sort of on range patrol…

May also be signing Endgame at the Bristol FP, but more news on that to come!

Full BristolCon schedule is here…

Westward Ho – a Weekend at BristolCon


Bristol is one of those places that’s always drawn me back – friends there, and events, and FP. A slightly more hip Norwich, a slightly less smug Brighton, it’s a city that has a geek magnetism all of its own.

And nowhere is this magnetism stronger than at BristolCon.

This year, the Con seemed to be all readings and beer – thank you to those who braved the Big Hill and came up to the Megastore to the Ecko Rising signing, and to those who loitered after the Women in Sensible Armour panel for the hit’n’run five-minuter that was fluffing for Guest of Honour Gareth Powell. The panel itself was half-fun and half-serious – thank you to Philip Reeve for elegant and flawless moderation, and to fellow panelists Jonathan L Howard, Jo Hall and Foz Meadows and for getting a serious message across with a laugh.

Back in the dealers’ room, a big cheer for FP’s Dez who was a star at the trading table, and for Terry Martin and his uke (who knew?) Was good to meet Ben Galley in the flesh (nice stall, Ben) as well as to foist copies of Ecko onto some old friends (Ken and Nick, always unchanged) and some newer ones (Marc and Cheryl, be gentle with me!)

It was also a weekend of artwork – another painting by Jennie Gyllblad, featuring a lemur no less!, and I was fortunate enough to be given a piece of art by Tom and Nimue Brown – both of which are now in my front room and looking very fine indeed.

Finally, the event can’t pass without a mention of Colin Harvey, Ghost of Honour – someone I only really knew in passing, but well enough to spend my last hour at the Con listening to readings from his work, and to the voices of those who knew him far better than I did. It was a touching thing – and carried across the very strong sense of community that BristolCon is all about. You can find the Colinthology here.

So well done to Jo and her crew – may it get bigger and better with every passing year!

(And yes, David. I did have a hangover. Curse you and your pub-crawling!)

BristolCon Schedule

If you’re at a loose end in Bristol, this weekend, BristolCon has perhaps the best sense of family you’ll find at a Con all year – it’s a small outfit but a rapidly growing one, and has a wonderfully welcoming warmth.

Before Con kick-off, I’ll be reading and signing up at Forbidden Planet Bristol on Friday lunchtime, from 1 – 2pm. Please come and point and laugh and throw things; I’m sure Tim won’t mind clearing up the eggs and flour.

At the Con itself, you can find me behind the FP stall as usual, sneaking out to participate in the Women In Sensible Armour panel in Room 1 at 3pm, along with Philip Reeve (mod), Jonathan L Howard, Joanne Hall and Foz Meadows – after which they’ve got me giving another (very short!) reading at 3:50pm.

Can’t promise I’ll be in armour for it, though, sensible or otherwise. Bit far to lug the plate on the train…

BristolCon

Watching by the beady eyes of the Overlord, it’s been a busy weekend in Bristol.

Two signings at the store – an open-plan group event for a Rogues’ Gallery of local authors, flawlessly cat-herded by Cheryl Morgan, followed by the main man himself, Richard Morgan, bringing us brutality, bloodshed and gay elf sex with The Cold Commands.

Then, on Saturday, suitably armed with a well-earned hangover (and still watched by the Overlord), we unpacked a table of books at BristolCon, an event doubled in size from the previous year and featuring lots of familiar faces and @nametags.

So. Another Con. What’s so special about this one?

During both signings at FP, there was a strong sense of family – a connection between authors and readers and fans that spilled over from staffroom to shop floor and brought everyone together to buy books, and to swap ideas and stories. And that sense of community was both expounded and expanded at the Con itself – a lack of barriers, social and physical, and a welcoming warmth that made BristolCon something above the ordinary.

Nailed to the trading table as usual, Tim and I were nevertheless right in the middle of things – not only selling books, but establishing and re-establishing those lines of communication and support that pull us all together as an industry, and give us that reassuring sense of exactly where we need to be.

For me, the weekend was made special by re-bonding with an old friend I haven’t seen in nearly a decade (bless you, Ken) and by pub-crawling round the watering holes of the city in the company of another friend that I don’t see nearly enough. Though my capacity for beer is sadly lacking these days, it’s apparently been replaced by a capacity for Mexican Burrito(e?)s and cake. Whodathunkit.

On a more serious note, the weekend was also made special (and a little bizarre!) by Jo asking me to do a reading from my own forthcoming title at BristolCon next year… I guess some part of me will never quite grasp that this is real until… not I’m standing there with my heart in my mouth, my book in my hand and (hopefully!) some people to read it to.

That… and my FREE KITTEN.

#MADMONTH! BristolCon and Other Stories


Every so often, life at Forbidden Planet goes balls-to-the-wall crazy.

We’ve done Star Wars Days and Hallowe’en Celebrations, we’ve had signings with some of the most exciting names in the industry and we’ve taken our butts and our books to the Bristol Ramada and drunk far too much beer at BristolCon… and had a great time doing all of it. No matter how busy the business may be, there’s a sense of involvement that keep the energy levels high.


As Doctor Tim, manager of the Bristol Megastore said: we do it because we love it.

Honest, guv’nor.!

Seriously, though, sometimes, this stuff is just a privilege. From the wondrous (and hair-raising) tales of Michael Moorcock’s youthful antics, to stealing William Gibson’s ebook signing pen (erm… sorry about that), to remembering the basement days of Denmark Street with Iain Banks, to rediscovering the warm and open friendliness of Simon Pegg… there’s never a dull moment. The tales of Denmark Street remind me that all of these people started in exactly the same place as the rest of us – and each one still values the opinion and input of every single one of his fans. Props to the lot of them!


The #madmonth has ended with a day at BristolCon – a new venture for the local SF/F collective and a perfectly slotted-together event. In the Dealers’ Room as ever, it was still good to see a full and engaging programme of events (we at least got to Nick’s pub quiz – Walters, you’ve missed your calling as a stage comedian!) and (inevitably) to the bar… plus we got to chat to a guest list, all local, that all pitched in to make the event a success.

And the ‘local’ is absolutely the event’s hand-on win. There’s a strong genre family in Bristol, a gathering of authors and bloggers and podcasters and fans who’ve helped build a city hub that’s become big enough to host a Con of its own – and to make it a success. The atmosphere was very chilled – and there was a togetherness to it that can be missing from larger gatherings.


As with the signings at the Megastore – it’s gone to underline that we’re all the same at the root, and we all have the same things dear to our hearts. At the risk of sounding a scrape too cheesy… do we all do it because we love it?

So – props to Jo and her team for a fantastic event that will grow into something even better next year. It was absolutely bigger on the inside!


And yes, we will be back!